Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sticks and Stones...

…may break my bones but words will never hurt me.  It just not true though is it?  The words we use, and the way we use them can be directly hurtful, or can perpetuate stereotypes and understandings that need to be challenged.

A set of phrases I have occasionally challenged are those that suggest that bravery is a male attribute.  This is perpetuated in phrases such as “He screamed like a little girl” which suggests that such a person’s courage has failed them because everyone knows that women aren’t brave!  Tell that to….Oh any of the brave women in history!

The other phrases that are used are variants of  “Grow some” (meaning grow some testicles, i.e. become a mature man), or more obviously “Man up, mate.”  Arguably, from one man to another these last two could be commenting on age and maturity rather than gender, in which case the use of them could be justified.  My worry is that I’ve heard them used among young women as well and I’ve pondered what equivalent women could use when encourage one another without diminishing them as women.

So Ladies/Women/Wimmin (use as preferred), if we are going use colloqialisms, I offer you:

“Come on! Grow some boobs”  and “Woman up!”  

Product Image
M&S Finest :-)
I also like, but can’t claim credit for: “Put on your big girl pants!”  I said the first two to a young woman colleague and they made her laugh…and then say “Yes, I need to”

In my head they create an image of women rolling up their sleeves, standing up for themselves, getting dressed to take on the big wide world on their terms, and that’s an image I like.  So please don't be offended if I urge you to grow some boobs and put on your big girl pants - I'm encouraging you to step up to all you are as a woman, with pride, courage and dignity, in underwear that says practical, sexy, pretty and comfortable.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

A vote of thanks

I would like to take this opportunity to offer a vote of thanks to the makers of Snow White and the Hunstman.  Because I have spent slightly more than two hours of my life this evening watching this film I now no longer need to watch any of the following films:

  • The Lord of the Rings series
  • The Harry Potter series
  • The Narnia Series
  • El Cid
  • Robin Hood – Prince of Thieves (or possibly the other one with Russell Crowe which I haven’t seen)
  • Princess Mononoke (and possible most of the rest of Studio Ghibli)
  • Avatar
  • Disney’s Snow White

Which, allowing an average of two hours per film makes roughly 59 hours saved (Add a further six hours for the extended editions of LOTR).  It also saved me the time and expense of taking a holiday on the lovely Pembrokeshire coast since the scene that was reminiscent of Charlton Heston’s beach cavalry attack in El Cid was filmed on Marloes Sands.

I am using the time saved to ponder the following questions:

  • Why is Kristen Stewart unable to keep her mouth closed?  She made a couple of valiant attempts in this film but generally failed.
  • What was the back-story on the Bridge Troll? Why did SW’s scream defeat him?  Would he go back to his old ways until the Three Billy Goats Gruff come along?  I suspect there was some more story here but it’s on the cutting room floor – should have cut the whole story-line IMHO.
  • What were the likes of Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane, Ray Winstone, Eddie Marsan et al thinking, other than “Nice pay check”?
  • Where was Warwick Davis and the rest of the band of short actors who have been doing good work in the past few years (mainly in the above mentioned films)?  Surely they are the go-to place for any dwarf casting?  But seriously, it’s a bit like blacking up Sir Laurence Olivier to play Othello!
  • Why did the dwarves not figure out that one of them was doomed, since we started out with eight?  Have they not read Brothers Grimm?  It couldn't have been more obvious if he’d been wearing a red top!
  • Wouldn’t it have been funny if, when SW awoke from her ‘death’ her eyelids popped open to reveal red vampire eyes?

On the plus side this film would pass the Bechdel Test with flying colours since the two female leads do talk about things besides men for most of the film, as do the other female characters.  The only bum note was when SW was looking for volunteers for her army, which she was planning to lead, she asked “Who will be my brother?”  Bit of a stopper for the many women who were portrayed as fighters, particularly the lake women, who had trained themselves to fight.  Especially as the army then actually did appear consist entirely of men, apart from SW herself.  Still it was nice to see a woman saving herself through her own integrity and ferocity, while men played a supporting role. 

I also had a nice night out with my daughter; her verdict, as we stood up to leave, "That was the crappest film in the world, and the woman behind me kept kicking me"

Monday, June 04, 2012

A modest proposal

A few years ago I read somewhere* of a proposal that when a couple with children split up, the house and the money needed to maintain it as a household should remain with the children, and the two parents should alternate which of them lives there.  This is in contrast to the current arrangement where two parents maintain households and the children move back and forth between them.

The thinking behind this novel idea was that if we say that the needs of the children come first, then what children need is a stable, consistent home environment, and the fact that the two parents no longer want to live together shouldn’t deny them this.  They should have their home, which is near their school and their friends, with their own rooms and possessions in one place.  The parents on the other hand, if they want to be part of their children’s lives, have to shuttle back and forth between their children’s home and any other home they might want to have.

You can see straight away that adults would complain that this idea is completely unworkable because parents would never know where they were, they would get confused, they wouldn’t have the things they need around them, they would never be able to relax, nowhere would feel like home, and they might have to spend time away from a new partner they love and want to be with.

But this is what children of separated parents have to go through all the time and it just adds to the pain and suffering that the breakdown of a relationship causes.

I’m actually not telling this story because I have an axe to grind about divorce, which is going to be painful and difficult no matter how it’s managed, but because I think our response to this proposal says something very important about the way we view children in our society.  We use a rhetoric of them being important and that their needs must be met first, but our actions say something different.  The axe I do want to grind is that this is what happens in church life.  We say that children matter, that they are important, but, when it comes to putting their needs before our own, we somehow miss the mark.

Us Baptists have been talking recently about re-imagining the future, but I wonder what church would look like if we wiped the slate completely clean and then started again with what children need to grow in faith?  Then fitted adult needs in after that…recognising that some might not be met because our best has been used for the children.  It would as startling and radical as the proposal I started with, but it might also mean that we assure the future not only of the children who grow up through it, but of the church itself.

How are you reacting to that???  What does your reaction mean?

*If anyone can tell me where I read or heard it I'd be grateful

A little note of amusement...

You might have noticed I didn't post much in May...I was amusing myself with a little experiment.  I noticed that I got fairly steady traffic on the blog and it seemed to be heading mostly for a post about Lord of the Rings.  I wondered what that meant.  so I haven't posted anything and have thereby possibly discovered the secret of sustaining moderate blog traffic:  Write a post about LOTR.  It might help that I mentioned Legolas's blonde hair, but basically a whole load of folks (20-30 a day) looking for something interesting about their fave film ended up on my blog.  I'm just thankful none of them have been rude about it.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Why I love young people

The main reason I am a youth worker is that I love young people (in a good way ;-)  I love their energy, their enthusiasm, their fresh look at life, and I especially love it when they see through stuff.

It's part of the tragedy of being a teenager that there are a lot of people trying to get them to believe a whole lot of rubbish about themselves, like "You have to be thin/buff/blonde to be beautiful" or "There is no hope for you".  I have to say that the intarwebs haven't always helped with this.  Images of what beauty is supposed to be are plastered everywhere, stories about what a waste of space teenagers are abound, and places like Facebook and Tumblr repeat and spread banal sentimental messages that actually mean very little.  Sometimes young people fall for these and post them*.  But ocassionally a very savvy young person spots the underlying BS and calls it!  Like this image:

Don't tell me what to do!

Kudos to the girl in the bottom pic!  And other young people:  don't be afraid to ask what's really going on!

*Although they may repost them because they express something the young person couldn't find words for themselves and if that's the case that's OK :-)